Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award – University of Copenhagen

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10 November 2015

Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award


The Obesity Society (TOS) in the U.S.A. has given Thorkild I.A. Sørensen, Professor of metabolic epidemiology at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and Professor of clinical epidemiology at the Department of Public Health its Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award.

In remembrance of Albert (Mickey) Stunkard, this award is designed to recognize people who, like Mickey, have made a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the field of obesity in terms of scholarship, mentorship and education. Just before receiving the award, Thorkild I.A. Sørensen gave the Friends of Mickey Stunkard Award Lecture, entitled “Genetic and social factors in the obesity epidemic – follow-up of Mickey Stunkard’s work”

For more than four decades, Professor Sørensen has been involved in the area of epidemiology of obesity, addressing genetic and environmental causes, development over time, occurrence of obesity, and in particular the development of the obesity epidemic, psychosocial and medical consequences and mortality. More recently, he has been engaged in development of theories aiming at building a comprehensive understanding of obesity. Professor Sørensen has been involved in multiple collaborative projects, and he has been coordinator of large-scale EU based projects about various aspects of obesity. He has published more than 500 original papers, and several in high impact journals. He has been extensively used as peer reviewer and scientific advisor in national and international settings.

“It is indeed a great honour to receive this award. A central feature of research is to be doubt about whether it is worth doing what we are doing and whether it is the right way it is done. Being nominated by several distinguished colleagues in the U.S.A. and Europe, all leaders in the field of obesity research, and on this basis receiving the award is the best possible indication that the work over the many years has some value for the advancement of knowledge in the field. It is also an encouragement to go on as long as I am able to contribute. Personally, it is a particular honour because I have collaborated with Mickey Stunkard almost from the very beginning of my career and this collaboration inspired me to pursue the line of obesity research. Moreover, he became a very good friend,” says Professor Sørensen.

Professor Stunkard’s own work has had seminal importance in the field of obesity. He worked primarily as a clinician, taking care of many patents with obesity. Based on his experience, he developed and investigated new ways of characterizing and treating obesity. He discovered a special obesity-related condition, the so-called night-eating syndrome. In addition, he also conducted epidemiological studies driven by the wish to understand what had led to the development of obesity in his patients. He pioneered the studies of the relationship between the psychosocial conditions and obesity, and he initiated studies of genetics of obesity using twins and adoptees by which he confirmed that the main reason why obesity runs in families is based on the genetic relationships rather than by the shared environment.

TOS developed its named awards programme more than a decade ago to promote, reward and encourage research in the field of obesity. Each year TOS, the leading professional society dedicated to researching, treating and preventing obesity, announces the five esteemed recipients of its named awards to recognize the honourees for their scientific achievements and contributions to the basic science, treatment and prevention of obesity.

Professor Thorkild I.A. Sørensen
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